It's a Mroz family affair at Ridgewood

676802.png

It's a Mroz family affair at Ridgewood

There certainly isn't a sibling rivalry among the Mroz brothers on Ridgewood's basketball team. It isn't unusual to see a fatherson, coachplayer relationship at the high school level. But a 27-year-old coaching two younger brothers? That's a new twist.

Chris Mroz, who will be 28 on Feb. 27, is the oldest of four brothers. A graduate of St. Patrick in 2002, he played for Mike Bailey, then played at Bradley and Missouri-St. Louis, worked at a bank, assisted at St. Patrick and Ridgewood, then became head coach three years ago.

Pete Mroz is a 6-foot-3 senior guard who is averaging 21 points per game. An outstanding shooter, he won the Class 3A three-point shooting contest last year. In a recent three-game flurry, he scored 41, 22 and 33 points. He converted 11 three-point shots and took only 16 shots in his 41-point effort against Fenton.

Anthony Mroz, the youngest brother, is a 5-foot-11 sophomore who is averaging 11 points per game. He has been rated as one of the top 50 players in the class of 2014 according to one recruiting service. "He will be a special player," Chris Mroz said.

Along with 6-foot-1 senior Andy Mazurczak, who is averaging 24 points and six assists per game, they are the leaders of a 19-6 team that is seeded No. 2 behind North Chicago in the Class 3A sectional at Grayslake Central. A year ago, Ridgewood was 20-10 and lost to North Chicago in the sectional final. In its history, the school has never advanced beyond the sectional.

Ridgewood continued tuning up for its state tournament bid by beating Glenbard South 64-60 last Tuesday, Elmwood Park 61-51 on Friday and Galesburg 50-46 on Saturday. Mazurczak scored 22 points against Glenbard South, 22 against Elmwood Park and 21 against Galesburg. The Rebels will close their regular season against highly regarded Riverside-Brookfield on Friday with the Metro Suburban Conference championship at stake.

"We could be 22-3," Pete Mroz said. "In every loss, we had the lead in the fourth quarter. We led Leyden by 17 in the fourth quarter. We lost to Glenbard South on a 65-foot shot off the backboard at the buzzer.

"We are quick, we play hard and our guards are very good. We play four guards and one post player. No one is bigger than 6-foot-4. Our kids aren't the biggest but they play hard and want to get better. They have good attitudes. Best of all, we're playing well at the right time."

Pete and Anthony Mroz and Mazurczak are complemented by 6-foot-3 junior Adam Krozel (10 ppg) and 6-foot-2 junior Mike Lizak (5 ppg). They got a big lift from 6-foot junior Igor Cirkovic, who came off the bench to make three three-pointers in the fourth quarter against Elmwood Park. Anthony Mroz contributed 15 points to the victory over Galesburg.

Saturday's trip to Galesburg was a unique experience for the Ridgewood team. Galesburg is one of the storied high school basketball programs in the state and playing in John Thiel Gym provided an atmosphere that the Rebels won't ever forget.

"To go deep into the playoff, we have to rebound and take care of the ball," Chris Mroz said. "Anthony does a lot for us. He knows the two seniors (Pete and Andy) are the go-to guys. His job is to defend, get after guys, make plays, be an energy and get the ball in the hands of our shooters."

Shooters as in Pete Mroz and Mazurczak. At the moment, the basket looks as big as the Grand Canyon to Pete, who had never scored more than 18 points in a game until he tallied 41 against Fenton. He once had 41 as a seventh grader and 32 in an AAU game last summer. But even he has a hard time explaining his recent hot streak.

"Pete has always been able to shoot. But he's starting to get hot. The basket looks pretty big to him right now," the coach said.

"Every time I shoot it, it feels like it is going to go in the basket. Everything I throw up goes in," Pete said. "I didn't have that confidence before. I was slow getting into the game. But this is the right time, as we're going into the playoff, to pick up my game."

Pete credits his older brother for his improvement. "When he became head coach, I knew he was going to be harder on us than anyone else. But he gives you confidence to shoot the ball and it pays off. Some coaches tell kids not to shoot the ball. But he has confidence in me, what every coach should have in their players. I feel comfortable shooting the ball from the volleyball line," he said.

"He doesn't act like my brother. He played at Bradley. It was cool to see my brother playing on a Division I floor. He always has been a good role model. He wants us to play hard all the time. I wanted to play for him. He taught me the game ever since I was a little kid. He's my idol. I wanted to be as good as him. That was my goal. I wanted to play for him."

Ironically, if Chris hadn't been hired at Ridgewood, Pete and Anthony would be at St. Patrick. Pete transferred from St. Patrick to Ridgewood after his freshman year and Anthony followed.

The coach describes Mazurczak as "one of the most underrated players in the city, our best player, a late bloomer, a special kid, a hard worker." If he weighed more than 155 pounds, more colleges would be interested, Pete Mroz said.

Mazurczak describes himself as a pass-first player who likes to get his teammates involved in the game. He is a natural point guard who has moved to the shooting guard position this season to add more scoring punch to the offense. He likes to get to the basket and the foul line. Most of all, he likes to win. He doesn't keep track of his statistics. He wasn't aware that he is averaging 24 points per game.

Modesty and humility aside, he wants to play basketball in college. He doesn't think he is a major Division I player because he lacks size and strength. But he knows he has played against other highly rated players with Division I credentials and he has held his own. So he hopes college coaches will reassess his skills. Meanwhile, he is more focused on his team and the remainder of the season.

"Our big goal is to get past the sectional," Mazurczak said. "We are a small team but we like to get the ball up and down. We are a bunch of shooters. We like to spread the floor and create plays. We started playing this style last year. We try to get fast break lay-ups and open shots. We know we can't hold the ball or our opponents will catch up to us.

"All summer long, we played against top teams to prepare for March. We played in the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, the Oak Park league and the Glenbard west tournament. We played Bogan, Morton, St. Patrick, Notre Dame, Oak Park, Proviso East, Fenwick, Proviso West and Lyons. We don't see those kind of teams in our conference, athletic and fast and strong. If we can play with them, we can play with anyone."

Report reveals details behind Kevin Wilson's departure from Hoosiers

kevin-wilson-1203.jpg
USA TODAY

Report reveals details behind Kevin Wilson's departure from Hoosiers

Indiana athletics director Fred Glass was vague during a Thursday press conference announcing the resignation of head football coach Kevin Wilson, citing "philosophical differences" between the two as the primary reason for Wilson's departure from the football program and refusing to get into specifics.

But new reporting from the Indianapolis Star's Zach Osterman revealed Saturday that multiple investigations and allegations of player mistreatment played a role in Glass' actions Thursday that led to Wilson no longer being the Hoosiers' head coach.

Reports throughout the day Thursday indicated this might be the case, suggesting a similar situation to what played out last year at Illinois, where Tim Beckman was fired a week prior to the start of the season after an investigation found support for claims that Beckman forced his players to play through injuries and held too much influence over the training staff.

Osterman's reporting revealed an investigation into the Hoosiers' football program in the spring of 2015 after a student-athlete left the program and his parents complained to the athletics department. The player, Nick Carovillano, sustained a back injury that the Indiana training staff did not take seriously enough, and it took an evaluation by Carovillano's hometown doctor to determine that he shouldn't be participating in football activities while injured.

Carovillano also said that Wilson's treatment of injured players was demeaning, not unlike some of the allegations at Illinois, where Beckman was said to have belittled injured players.

From Osterman's report:

"(Wilson) would come over and yell at us, saying, 'I’m paying $70,000 a year for you to sit on your ass,'" Carovillano said. "That happened about halfway through the season and carried on to the end of it. If you were injured, he just wanted to make you feel like crap. He just wanted to make you feel bad, so you basically would stop being injured."

...

"It just seemed like I wasn’t welcome there, and I was kind of considered a disappointment to them. I injured myself playing for them. I wasn’t starting at all. Everything I was doing was for the betterment of the team. You get injured, and the whole attitude changes toward you."

After Carovillano's parents made their complaints, Indiana launched an investigation into the program and found that there was no "inadequate" medical care. But Glass felt the need to tell Wilson to change his approach anyway, instructing the coach and his assistants to take a different attitude toward injured players. Glass also ordered the implementation of several changes involving the medical attention given to injured players.

Osterman reported that Glass was pleased with the changes Wilson made and considered the issues to be resolved. Wilson received a six-year contract extension in January, less than a year removed from the investigation into Carovillano's departure from the program.

But new issues popped up last month, according to Osterman's interview with Glass. This prompted another investigation, the results of which are not yet public knowledge. But given that this was not the first time such issues arose in Wilson's program, Glass felt it was enough and that a separation was necessary, that separation being Wilson's resignation.

Wilson resigned rather than getting fired, leaving an eyebrow-raising amount of money on the table. He will be paid his base salary of about half a million dollars for one year, but there was approximately $11 million left on his contract.

Tom Allen, who just completed his first season as Indiana's defensive coordinator, was named Wilson's permanent replacement Thursday evening.

Check out all the details in Osterman's report.

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

The Blackhawks were put in a rough spot on Saturday afternoon when goaltender Corey Crawford had to undergo an emergency appendectomy before their matinee matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.

With Scott Darling as the lone goaltender on the active roster the Blackhawks signed Eric Semborski to an amateur tryout to serve as Darling's backup for Saturday's game against the Flyers.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Semborski, 23, has no NHL experience and last played club hockey at Temple University and for the Empire Junior Hockey Jersey Wildcats.

According to EliteProspects.com, Semborski had a 4.98 GAA and .844 save percentage in 29 games with the Wildcats.

Both the Blackhawks and NHL Twitter accounts had some fun at the expense of Semborski.